McGruder’s Huge Walk Lets UNT Pass Florida Atlantic

Kendall McGruder was stuck behind the three-point arc with nowhere to go with the ball on Saturday during North Texas’ game against the Florida Atlantic.

The UNT sophomore guard watched, waited for someone to break, and finally had no choice but to let the deep 3 fly. The shot only hit the net.

That was the day for McGruder and Sneaky Green.

The former South Grand Prairie standout exploded with 29 points and UNT recorded a two-game losing streak with a landslide 75–59 victory over the Owls at the Super Pit.

Kendall McGruder

“This is what we are capable of,” said UNT coach Jali Mitchell. “We had people who were bought in defense, which was very important for us. We had to ask people who are not used to playing defense or used to playing at that level or having that level of responsibility to get up and buckle up. You saw it today.”

UNT (5-11, 2-4 Conference USA) held the FAU to 21 points in the second half in one of the season’s best defensive halves. McGruder has eclipsed what Evil Green has accomplished this end of the court with by far the best performance of her career.

The 5-foot-9 defenseman shot 12 of 18 from the field and 4 of 7 from three-point range. Her previous high was 16 points in UNT’s loss to Louisiana Tech on Wednesday.

“It’s 100% what can get me going,” McGruder said. “Last year I was known as a shooter. I knew I was capable of more and worked on my floater and mid-range play. My goal is to become a complete player.”

McGruder showed her full game in UNT’s win over FAU (10-5, 3-3). She finished with five interceptions and three assists before finishing her performance with three late passes on the shot clock.

“Everyone thought the clock would reset,” McGruder said. “I didn’t see it. It was 4, 3, 2. I just fired. I was hoping this would happen. I knew it was my day when it happened.”

McGruder’s performance was the key to a great offensive day overall for UNT. The Mean Green shot 53.7% (29 of 54) from the field. Quincy Noble added 17 points, giving UNT two players in double figures.

UNT needed big days from both after falling behind in the first half. FAU took control 6-0 in the second quarter and led 38-29 at half-time.

The Mean Green turned the game around in the third quarter, beating FAU 21-8.

“We closed,” Mitchell said. “We wanted to get stops and showed that we want to get stops. This gave us easier opportunities to attack.”

Ania Hubbard scored 14 points to lead the FAU, but only had four points in the second half.

“At halftime we thought we shouldn’t lose,” McGruder said. “We wanted to do small things that helped us come back to level the score and take the lead.”

UNT led 50-46 early in the fourth quarter and finished 8-2 early in the last quarter. McGruder scored the first four points of the run.

“We knew Kendall was capable of it,” Mitchell said. “We recruited her for a while. She was a popular player in high school, and last year she had moments where she showed what she was capable of. She has gone much further and is showing her full game.”

UNT is hoping that what McGruder has shown against the FAU is a sign of what lies ahead for her and Mean Green in the rest of the season.

“It was 100% one of our best games,” McGruder said. “When we close in defense, we become a completely different team. The people we need to protect more stepped up tonight.”

North Texas 75, Florida Atlantic 59

FLORIDA ATLANTIC (10-5, 3-3) – Galeron 3–10 0–0 8, Gaston 5–7 0–0 10, Hubbard 6–9 2–2 14, Moore 3–9 0–0 6, Zaf 2–5 2–2 8, Hannah 0–1 0 -0 0, Maddox 4:13 0:0 9, Scott 1:3 0:0 2, Gillard 0:1 0:0 0, Vic 1:1 0:0 2. Totals 25:59 4:4 59.

NORTH TEXAS (5-11, 2-4) – Johnson 3-5 3-3 9, McGruder 12-18 1-2 29, Hardaway 0-1 2-4 2, Carter 1-2 4-4 6, Moore 3-6 0-2 6, Noble 8-17 1 -1 17 Lampkin 2:3 2:4 6, Davis 0:0 0:0 0, Laudermill 0:2 0:0 0, Bowles 0:0 0:0 0. Totals 29:54 13:30 75.

Florida Atlantic sixteen 22 8 13 59
North Texas 12 17 21 25 75

Three-point goals – FAU 5–17 (Galeron 2–8, Hubbard 0–1, Zaf 2–3, Maddox 1–4, Gillard 0–1) UNT 4–12 (McGruder 4–7, Noble 0–4, Laudermill 0–1) Foul – Gaston Rebounds – FAU 27 (Galeron 5) UNT 33 (Johnson, Lampkin 7) Helps – FAU 17 (Moore, Zaph 5) UNT 15 (Carter 5) Total fouls – FAA 21, UNT 15 AND – 1300.

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